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JANUARY 7, 2010   

Learn from each other

Projection screen at workshopAfter a full day of start-of-semester meetings yesterday, we're still at it today. It's better, though, because these are workshops created and presented by other faculty members.

A few years back—after much grumbling by faculty—one day of administration-driven content was replaced by a day organized and presented by faculty, a colloquium. Much better.

I chose a couple of sessions on how to better use technology in the classroom, like the one shown in the photo that explained e-portfolios, online collections of student and/or faculty work. I'm familiar with how photographers and designers use the web to present samples of their work, but the idea that all students might do something similar was something to consider.

The workshop leader, Donna Homenko, who teaches Dental Hygiene and Bioethics shared her own e-portfolio. It includes links to more information about the topic and available software.

Bill's Class

I usually think I'm pretty up-to-date and active in terms of using online media. I'm on Facebook and Twitter, I constantly bookmark interesting resources using Delicious, and I often create websites for specific classes. I usully do this using the college's course management software, Blackboard, and occasionally build a separate site like IntroVC.com (getting a bit long in the tooth after eight years).

Screenshot of Billsclass homepageBill Whetsel, one of my counterparts at Tri-C's Eastern Campus, has taken a huge step forward with his site, Billsclass.com. The site collects information, demo videos, and lots of links related to all his classes in one place.

Bill and a math teacher with a similarly comprehensive website shared their ideas and techniques in a colloquium workshop describing ways to tutor students online.

The short review: great presentation, lots of inspiring ideas on how to better use online technology to help students. One suggestion alone made it worth my time: using screen capture software to record demos while actually doing them in class. Students can go back and review the demo anytime if they didn't quite get it first time through.

I've often thought I should record demos—no question that students would appreciate it. But the thought of planning and recording them before or after class has always put me off. It's time I just don't have. Bill's insight that you just need to record what you're already doing anyway is one of those lightbulb/"duh!" breakthroughs. Why didn't I think of that?

Headphone, mic comboSo this semester I plan to drape one of those headphone + mic combos around my neck, hit "record" on my iShowU software, and demo my little heart out, recording it for posterity as I go.

Sometimes little details make a huge difference, like the idea of using an inexpensive wired headphone/mic rather than a sophisticated wireless setup (which we don't have). Thanks, Bill, you rock!

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